If you’ve ever been out of the US for an extended period of time, coming back can be strange. The United States is different from anyplace else in the world. In the past three months, I’ve made the return trip twice. Each trip felt very different.
In March after a four month absence, I flew into one of the worst winters for snowfall in Boston history. Bostonians had really been beat up by an endless barrage of snow storm after snow storm for the entire month of February…almost 100 inches. They had suffered commuter rail and subway cancellations, endless traffic jams, and days of back-breaking snow shoveling.
After deplaning, it was evident that city was in a sullen mood. No one smiled. No one seemed happy to be home. People on the bus to South Station just looked plain uncomfortable. The commuter rail riders looked considerably more weary than they usually do. Coming from sunny 80 degree weather, “What,” I thought, have I gotten myself into?
However, Boston still felt like home. The room I had stayed in the previous year was ready for me. My car was somewhere under a pile a snow, and after a strenuous three hour shovel, I freed it. It started up on the first try thanks to Tom and Barbara Harkins. They had let me store the car in their driveway, and had been starting it regularly before it got buried.
After a week, I returned to Mexico for another two months. Coming back to Boston in May the weather was considerably better.
But Boston felt different.
There were several reasons for this. I really had no place to call home in Boston. Martha, from whom I had rented a room, was getting her house ready for sale and her sister from Georgia was coming to help her clean it out. I could only stay there for two nights. I had planned visits to friends on Cape Cod and relatives in New Jersey. So I booked a room with AirBnB for the remainder of the trip.
The other reason was that I had decided to make a home in Mexico and live there year-round. I had signed a one-year lease for a house about a mile down the road from where I was staying.
I had been toying with idea for months. But once you get off the fence and make a commitment, it does something to your head, All of sudden the answer to “where do you live?” is no longer “the Boston area.” It’s “San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco, Mexico,” and I can’t even pronounce it!
For the first time in I felt like I was a visitor in the Boston area that I’d called home since 1974. Looking to the future, I returned “home” to Mexico looking at the next chapter in life’s adventure a little differently.